In the days before digital it was darned hard to do night shots as an amateur. Flash won’t light the Eiffel Tower. You used the film that was in the camera. Lights are bright but will not be sufficient to light up everything in your picture. Digital makes hash of all of that worry. The mini computer can compensate on the fly. ISO adjusts automatically as the light changes. The processor will adapt to artificial light.
Then – You accept noise in your image. Basically, you are thankful for a shot. Now – The shots are so exceptionally better that you don’t realize how easy it all is today. I’m amazed. I take it in stride and even shot the stars (recently) in the night sky without a tripod. I’m not bragging. I can only say that you can push the envelope and it often will give you something better than expected.
Everyone’s gotta make a living. Some are creative. Others entertaining. I’ve seen variations with folks dressed like the Statue of Liberty in New York City. And then there is the renowned Naked Cowboy in Times Square. What do you call them? Mimes? This crew would fall into the category of stationary mimes. If you aren’t careful they can startle you as they suddenly move as you pass by. I have to admit that they are worth a look…perhaps a second glance… I was fortunate to have seen Marcel Marceau on a field trip in the 9th grade. He’s among the first artists listed in a google search today. Wow! I count myself indeed fortunate. Take a picture, pay a sou.
How did I know this image would work? It was Paris and the Eiffel Tower at night. Night shots are devilishly hard. They are surprisingly easy. Lighting is tungsten (mostly). Film is balanced for daylight. Light bulbs throw off enough light that they mimic daylight levels of light. The lighting difference from foreground to background is tough to compensate and balance. It’s still slide film at this point. Digital can handle the situation much more easily. My archive? I was able to locate the original slide I posted before without too much pain. Gee! It’s good/lucky to be organized (somewhat). For most the eye/brain is fooled and compensates for daylight and tungsten differences. But the reality of print leaves a distinct discernible difference. Did any of this make sense? Someone I know keeps asking me this. And… I get it.
I am so fascinated that I got this image. Actually, there are two. The other slide was a wider angle view of this painter at dusk. He was on a bridge (duh) and I was on a tour boat on the Seine. Yes, the lighting was near impossible. And I did not ever see the painting until I developed the slide. Voila! You might think this as an out of focus shot. I’m impressed that I got anything at all. See in the dark digital cameras might well to better now. To me this was a one of a kind image that I had no right to get and I got it by sheer luck. There was some skill. I was there. I pressed the shutter. Hey! I can smile and talk about it all this time later.
Digital? Now? Yes, this shot would be way easier. And then again it would challenge most people. Not too many people would try it. Even fewer would have noticed this shot. To be honest I had no idea what I would get. Serendipity.
Mix together: kids + carousel = fun. Paris. That’s fun right there! But innocence is so fleeting. It’s an unguarded moment that makes me smile. Not too much more time went by and the oldest kids would be teenagers. I liked them at this age. But, everyone gets old. I’m still thankful that they didn’t have “shooter” drills in school. They do now. Jules teaches. She’s aware that she’s unprotected in her private school. Fortunately, she’s teaching elementary school. Her first job in the Bronx public school presented her with an eight-year old who walked around the class threatening to kill his fellow students. She taught with an arm bar around his neck. That would no play well in Peoria these days.
If you’re ever in Paris do stop at Angelina’s. Maybe it’s still there? It was in the guide book. I don’t read guide books. Someone else in our group had this place on the “to do” list. It is the home of the “Mont Blanc.” That would be a meringue cookie over a chestnut cream covered in chocolate or maybe it’s the other way ‘round. But the total package is worth the trip. I still dream about it. There is nothing like it in America. Chestnuts generally are not considered too much except roasted in NYC in the winter in Central Park. I’ve had a connection to chestnuts since I grew up in West Virginia and my mother used them in chestnut stuffing of her own concoction. I still make my stuffing that way. I’ve got the recipe (Mont Blanc) but it’s something you dream about but never get around to making yourself. I shall continue to pine. I hope Angelina is still there.
The second image is an extra. My edit came across the contents of the hotel safe in Paris. What would you keep safe? Stuffed animals and framed prints. Of course! My kids?
Who is the dominant force in the relationship? It started as always. The eldest. Close closely, he followed his older sister and all of her instructions and games. I first noticed the schism when Jules wore black and Dave wouldn’t. It all grew “testy.” He could drive his sister mad with frustration. Men! Lately there is an armed truce. They are separated by east and west coast. They are similar yet won’t admit it. I watch and observe. At this stage one can’t interfere or repair or do anything. Was I this way when I was younger? It’s always been my game. I guess I have never looked to myself to see. How much responsibility do I bear? We counted the number of Xmas presents to be sure there was equality. I simply watch myself to not stir up jealousies now. It’s fascinating. I don’t know how this will end.
I know this now. But then? Detail. Zoom in more than you think you might. The image has more impact. I do this now. Then? Not so much. Here’s an example. I was more frugal. Film costs. Digital doesn’t. So, experiment. Get in close and go big. iPhone. Too many times the angle is bad and so is the image. I notice a lot of people shoot vertical with the iPhone. It’s because that’s the easiest way to hold it? I shoot 99% horizontal with digital these days. It’s because my computer screen is panoramic horizontal. Ha! All the blank (vertical) space on the side is boring. Back then? I would say that 30-50% of my images were vertical. You can make it work. I still shoot horizontal most of the time. But now? I put my main subject off center. It works. Change. Evolve.
I’ve been scanning old slides. Paris. All the iconic buildings are there in my collection. I can’t name most of the buildings now. I took pictures of the hotel room. Don’t’ laugh. And people? The kids? Family? A small percentage. What’s valuable this many (decades) later? Answer: The kids and family and friends. But not the trite pictures of standing in front of a monument to document – “Look ma, see where I am, wish you were here too. “No, it’s the intimate moments. I didn’t get too many. I’ve been blitz scanning after leaving off in 2013. So far, 2000+. Yes, it’s a long slow painful process that no one modern (digital) will ever have to do. The upshot? Too few of the slides are really keepers. Sad. I took a lot of documentary pictures of not much value now. The pics that make me smile are the ones of the kids when they were…that little?
Paris fashion? Paris in the springtime – it was a song. “I love….” There are a few photos of me going back in my archives. It’s interesting to see me before I was gray haired. It’s fairly obvious that I handed over my camera to document myself. That grey Domke bag was actually used completely. You know? Like I actually wore it to death. There’s something to be said to wearing your jeans until they wear out instead of having been manufactured “worn out.” I wore my signature khaki pants and fleece jacket. Not much has changed except that now I use a black camera bag and have gray hair. Me worry? Nah!